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Wiser’s Retail Predictions for the New Year

Are you curious what’s coming around the corner in the world of retail? We certainly are, so here at Wiser, we put our heads together to figure out what the future holds in our exciting industry. 

Here are our retail predictions for the new year: 

Retail Prediction No. 1: Omnichannel is No Longer a Trend 

Over the past few years, countless experts and trends articles pointed out that “the future was omnichannel.” Well, that future is now. 

Omnichannel retail, unified commerce, multi-channel shopping—call it what you want, but it’s here to stay. No longer a trend, shoppers expect an omnichannel experience when they browse and buy. For many, that can take the form of: 

  • Smartphones in stores: Walk around your favorite brick-and-mortar retailer and you’ll see shoppers on their phones. According to Adobe Analytics, smartphones were the tool of choice for 33 percent of all online Black Friday sales. Smartphones are used in-store for price comparisons, product details, customer reviews, and much more.
  • BOPIS: Fulfillment has always been a major part of the retail experience, and omnichannel retail has led to the rise of Buy Online, Pick Up In Store. With a BOPIS strategy, retailers allow shoppers to purchase from their online webstores and have those goods delivered to the nearest physical location, where shoppers can pick up their orders. Zebra reported that 90 percent of retailers expect to have BOPIS by 2021.  
  • Multiple touchpoints: Omnichannel also takes the form of multiple touchpoints between retailer, brand, and customer. For example, more businesses are marketing and advertising via social media. Younger shoppers, in particular, buy based on social media recommendations and it pays to connect with audiences in as many mediums as possible. 

These are just a few ways that omnichannel exists today. The bottom line is that it’s not a trend anymore, but a core component of the retail landscape. 

Retail Prediction No. 2: Experiential Shopping 

While brick-and-mortar retail is alive and well, it is still undergoing a transformation. One of the biggest changes to physical retail is the rise of experiential shopping. What is this? 

Experiential shopping is just a different way to provide value to customers. In the past, value was mainly in the form of products and services—and their prices. Now, shoppers can get that online. What they want in-store is something more: an experience.  

Pop-up stores are a prime example of this, as brands and retailers use limited-time pop-ups to drive buzz or partner with other businesses. The integration of mobile apps, artificial intelligence, or virtual reality also provides unique experiences for shoppers. More technology is a driving force behind these retail experiences, and the sky is really the limit for brands and retailers. 

Retail Prediction No. 3: Increase in Retail Apps 

Closely tied to both omnichannel retail and experiential shopping are mobile applications. This is our No. 3 prediction: More retailers will develop and implement mobile apps for their shoppers. 

According to AdColony’s “Holiday Shopping Survey 2018,” 35 percent of consumers prefer to shop via mobile app. Coffee shops are big proponents of mobile apps, as major chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts offer apps to their shoppers to provide coupons, complete orders, and earn rewards.  

Many other retailers have created apps where users can connect their banking information, so they no longer need to carry credit cards or cash to buy. They can browse and order right from the app with no additional data inputs needed. For retailers, mobile apps allow them to collect more user data and customize marketing, advertising, and rewards programs. Sephora, for example, reminds users of deals during their birthday months. 

Overall, expect more retailers to develop and release mobile apps in 2019. 

Retail Prediction No. 4: Lots of Eyes on Tariffs 

In early December, the National Retail Federation responded to the news that the Trump Administration would delay tariff increases originally scheduled for January 2019.  

“The administration’s decision to give diplomacy a chance and at least temporarily avoid the imposition of increased and additional tariffs is an encouraging sign,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. 

The NRF isn’t the only group closely watching the tariffs news. A rise in tariffs—either by the Trump Administration or another country, such as China—will likely directly affect the retail industry. Tariffs can lead to a rise in the cost of raw materials, increased expenses in the supply chain, or a lack of materials to begin with.  

Naturally, an increase in costs for manufacturers will trickle down to consumers, and that could present some challenges for retail. Experts have warned against rising consumer expenses or layoffs in the industry. Those are some reasons why the NRF released a statement in support of the delay in tariffs. In 2019, all eyes will be on the Trump Administration as it decides next steps regarding tariffs. 

An Optimistic End of Year 

These are our four retail predictions for 2019. To end on a happy note, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales increased slightly from October through November, with gains likely attributed to strong holiday shopping. There are also strong hiring trends and low unemployment rates, and consumers are still expected to be confident and spend money into the new year. 

What do you think 2019 will bring for the retail industry? Let us know! Connect with us to learn more about our retail solutions that can help you make the most out of the new year.  

Matt Ellsworth

Matt is the Sr. Manager, Marketing & Demand at Wiser, the leading provider of actionable data for better decisions.

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